Why is that one moment I feel brave and the next I don’t? It is a question I am yet to answer, and this week it was a feeling I experienced more often than I would like.
On Monday morning, I schooled Riley in walk and trot and over poles. He was at times argumentative but overall, I felt we had a good session.
The dreaded moment arrived
Tuesday is always “Riding Lesson Tuesday” and I felt nervous because I knew I would be asked to canter during the lesson. I keep wondering to myself why this has become a problem. Only a few months ago I was cantering different horses each week in my lessons without worrying so much and now in my head it is an issue. We began the lesson trotting over poles. This didn’t go particularly well at first, as each time Riley veered to one side which I wasn’t anticipating well enough, however after a few more attempts we did improve. Then the dreaded moment arrived when Becky asked me to canter and we successfully got a few strides and I felt a huge surge of pride for my boy who was giving his all. I must confess though, my steering, left much to be desired and I let’s not even mention my sitting position. It is clear we both have work to do.
On Wednesday we had another lesson, and so after walking and trotting we attempted canter again. We only managed one successful canter and whilst Riley’s only fault was taking off on the wrong canter lead, mine were many. I felt unbalanced and nervous. He seemed extremely fast and running away with me, which he wasn’t. I just wanted him to stop and I was relieved when we did.
Thrown off kilter
My intention on Thursday was to tack up and school Riley. After checking that the indoor school was free, we headed there only to find out that a lesson was taking place and the outdoor wasn’t available either. For some reason this threw me off kilter and rather than not riding I thought a hack down the lane was our only option, although not my favoured one as it was windy. Because we couldn’t get access to the mounting block in the school, I had to mount in the yard on the wrong side which summed up how I was feeling and off we went. Every time Riley looked at something, I felt nervous and that probably made him anxious.so I felt nothing but relief when we were back at the yard. When we returned, the indoor school was available for us to share with another horse, but it took me a long time to relax.
As both schools were unavailable on Friday morning I decided not to ride and give Riley a day off.
A Grand Prix pit stop
Saturday morning didn’t begin well at all. Firstly, my alarm didn’t go off so getting Riley ready for our lesson felt like a Grand Prix pit stop. The weather was wild and not only was it raining but the wind was howling, and I wanted to cancel my lesson as I was worried about how Riley would be.
I don’t know why as he has always been fine with wind. It’s just my mind playing tricks again I suppose.
After tacking up I headed into the outdoor manege and walked him round waiting for Becky my instructor. I kept wondering if I should tell her that I wanted to cancel but stopped myself as I knew she would tell me if the lesson should be cancelled. I was internally telling myself that I couldn’t possibly canter and would instead spend the lesson trotting. Of course, I knew Becky would have other ideas and would at some point be telling me to canter. When she inevitably did, I told her “I couldn’t do it” and kept trotting instead. Luckily Becky knows me very well and won’t let me get away with things so after persistence on her part we finally attempted it. It wasn’t a success, but at least we had tried. To see if Riley knows when to canter, Becky decided to lunge him. He isn’t easy to lunge although her experience shone through. I watched on, keeping an eye on the time hoping that my lesson would be over before she had time to ask me to get back on board. Strangely when I did get back on board and the time had run out, I was disappointed and almost ready to have another go.
On Sunday, rather than ride Riley in the school, I lunged him as Becky had suggested we do some lungeing. We managed walk and trot successfully however canter needs some work. Afterwards we had a much more leisurely hack and Riley was noticeably more relaxed but then so was I, and no doubt giving him less to worry about.
I know with the canter I am going to have to push myself to do it as often as possible even when I am not feeling brave and need to remind myself that I felt exactly the same about his trot a couple of weeks ago and I am absolutely fine with that now.